Deferred maintenance is defined as a homeowner deciding to postpone certain needed home repairs. This is an unfortunate reality for many, but not everyone understands the full consequences of deferred maintenance. However, homeowners can make it easier on themselves should they need to delay certain repairs.
Long-Term Neglect Ramifications
Some homeowners defer maintenance because they know they don't have the funds to cover it. Some defer because they're busy and don't realize the maintenance needs to be done. They may think that if they don't see any major problems in the home, it must be acceptable. However, deferred maintenance can devalue a home over time rather than give it character. Future buyers are likely to believe the seller was indifferent to their home rather than appreciative of it. Deferred maintenance is also one of the more common ways a buyer can renegotiate the cost of a home—both before and after they make their offer (due to possible inspection items).
The Hidden Truths
Homeowners who defer maintenance because they're too cash-strapped are often missing the much bigger problem. Home repairs will become more expensive the longer they're left alone. One cracked tile in the bathroom may cost a few dollars to fix. Leave the cracked tile alone though, and the problem is likely to spread. It's not unusual for deferred maintenance to four times more than the original costs. It can also turn the bathroom floor into a hazardous area. If someone trips on an uneven tile, they could be severely injured. Experts often recommend that all homeowners—particularly those with older homes—have a professional home inspector check their home for deferred maintenance items.
Deciding on a Plan
Maintenance is far easier to handle once homeowners have a systematic approach to it:
- The first step is to list everything in the home that could stand to be updated or repaired. This could be anything from an old stove with questionable wiring to a tiny crack in the wall. Once homeowners identify the most troublesome areas, they can structure their budget around the full cost of repairs.
- Explore: For those who are overwhelmed by everything they need to do, technology may make it easier for homeowners to keep up on their ever-growing list of repairs. Experimenting with different methods is the only way to find the one that works for you.
- DIY: For those who are concerned about the cost of their repairs, they may want to look into how they can offset the work with their own skills. This could be anything from doing the repair on your own to doing the prep work before the professionals stop by.
The worst thing a homeowner can do about their deferred maintenance is nothing. If a homeowner can't afford to replace their roof, it's better to do a patch-up job on a roof than to ignore it entirely. Duct tape can be used to hold anything from a PVC pipe to a window screen together. If homeowners can't afford to redo their plumbing right now, they can turn off the water line that connects with the problem areas. Try calling several of the handymen in the area to see if they are willing to implement a temporary solution that can stretch your methods even further. These tactics may not go very far for those who want to preserve the total integrity of the home, but it may at least reduce the financial impact of the defect.
The homeowner's property does not exist in a vacuum, and what each individual chooses to do can impact their neighbors and their neighborhood. Putting off repairs can seem like the homeowner's problem, but it may not take much before their decisions have affected the overall perception of the home. Not only can overall property values fall when a homeowner defers maintenance, but they can endanger the safety of their immediate neighbors as well. For example, if the home has poor ventilation, it may be vulnerable to fires that can easily spread to neighboring homes. There is no such thing as a perfect home, but standard maintenance is an important part of how community members and future buyers form impressions of an area.
Deferred maintenance is not only a threat to the resale value of the home, but also to the safety of the residents and guests who may cross the property lines. Understanding the consequences of deferred maintenance can make it easier for homeowners to prioritize the repairs and renovations that absolutely need to happen. And a good deferred maintenance plan on a home will help hold the value of a home so when it comes time to sell a Spring Hill home, it can be marketed and sold for top dollar.
The Ashton Real Estate Group of RE/MAX Advantage
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